Bishops, pastors, and parishes can get into tough spots these days. UCANews picked up the NCR story from across the Pacific on the ousted pastor, the firm bishop, the Vatican appeal, and the outraged parish. A brief local piece from last month is here.
Priests of questionable ability and history get appointed as pastors, and seemingly, are very difficult to oust. I’ve been in parishes where pastors have been reassigned under inscrutable circumstances. In today’s climate, you have to wonder what the guys have done and why the bishop is making a move. The culture of silence is the setting for any surprise move, and that’s what bishops and priests will be working with, or under, for the next generation at least.
Bishops are lawyered up big time these days. Any whiff of lawsuit, and nobody’s talking. Which puts the bishop in a very bad spot. Practically, they can’t make a move without really good cause. Mutual dislike with a priest? That’s one the two men in question are just going to have to suck up and take one for the team.
Bishop Cary has two choices: go public with his reasons for firing Fr Radloff or accept that he has alienated a wide swath of lay people in a parish and raised a lot of questions and will be on the receiving end of ill will. He can’t fall back on the “internal affairs” excuse and think he’s done. That may not be fair. And Fr Radloff may well be a troublemaker making things difficult for his bishop. That’s not particularly fair either.
As for the parish, I hope the lesson they’ve learned goes beyond a charismatic pastor. It’s up to them, not the priest, to keep the pews full and the newcomers coming.